Abbreviated schedule in the league, with five teams getting the weekend off. As I recall, that will take care of most of the byes.
Looking at the games, in order of (my) interest:
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (3-3, 1-1) at ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (3-2, 1-1), 6:30 p.m.
After seeing UAB knock off Louisiana Tech last week at Legion Field, you know this game could put a mark on the East Division. Not sure the Blazers have that much magic again, but we’ll see.
MTSU linebacker Khalil Brooks earned his second defensive player of the week award against Florida International, racking up three sacks and five tackles for loss. And then there is LB Tavares Thomas rushing for three TDs as a Wildcat QB.
Another MTSU name for Herd fans to know: RB Brad Anderson, who has rushed for 260 yards and had 16 receptions over the last three games.
LINE: MTSU by 6.5. MTSU
TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (3-1, 0-1) AT NORTH TEXAS (3-2, 2-0), 7 p.m.
Oh, what do we have here? The Mean Green is in first place in the West, the only team unbeaten in league. This is a budding little rivalry in the Lone Star State, and this time it means something.
The Mean Green averages 510.8 total yards, 295.2 passing yards and 38.8 points per games, all leading C-USA, and Mason Fine has come out of the gate as Conference USA’s top QB (watching from a distance, anyway).
Both have the same last opponent, Southern Miss, with different results — the Mean Green won 43-28 in Hattiesburg and UTSA lost 31-29 in the Alamodome, when Dalton Sturm’s two-point conversion pass failed with 4 seconds left.
UTSA averages 35:31 in time of possession, third in the FBS. That would go a long way in reeling in NT.
LINE: UTSA by 2.5. UTSA
TEXAS-EL PASO (0-6, 0-2) at SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (3-2, 1-1), 7 p.m.
So Mike Price plants himself on the Miners’ sideline as interim coach and his team holds Western Kentucky to 282 total yards and loses just 15-14. I’m going to chalk that up as an inspired effort.
Ito Smith ran for 178 yards last week at UTSA, including 89 up the middle for a TD. That gave Southern Miss a 28-13 lead, making the Roadrunners play catch-up the rest of the way.
Generally, I go against UTEP in high humidity, and there will be plenty of that on an 88-degree day in Hattiesburg.
LINE: Southern Miss by 22.5. SOUTHERN MISS
TULANE (3-2) at FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (3-2), 7 p.m.
TV: CUSA TV (If it works)
A 37-17 loss to MTSU temporarily puts to rest the scary specter of a C-USA championship in Riccardo Silva Stadium. The Panthers were brought back to earth by four sacks and a 306-total-yard day.
Tulane is coming off a 62-28 pounding of Tulsa, on which the Green Wave gained 653 total yards.
LINE: Tulane by 13.5. FIU
Last week: 4-2
East: FAU 2-0, Marshall 1-0, FIU 2-1, WKU, MTSU 1-1, Old Dominion 0-1, Charlotte 0-2.
West: North Texas 2-0, Southern Miss, UAB, La Tech, Rice 1-1, UTSA 0-1, UTEP 0-2.
Rushing yards: Devon Singletary, FAU, 686; Jeffery Wilson, NT, 666; Ito Smith, Southern Miss, 613. (Marshall: Keion Davis 9th, 302.)
Passing yards: J’Mar Smith, La Tech, 1,529; Mason Fine, NT, 1,442; Mike White, WKU, 1,255; Chase Litton, Marshall, 1,206.
Pass efficiency: Dalton Sturm, UTSA (78-110-1, 1,026, 9 TDs, rating 174.4); Keon Howard, Southern Miss (27-43-0, 370, 3 TDs, rating 158.1); Mason Fine, NT (102-163-4, 1,442, 11 TDs, rating 154.3). (Marshall: Chase Litton 7th, 109-178-3, 1,206, 10 TDs, 133.3.)
Receptions: Teddy Veal, La Tech, 36; Ty Lee, MTSU, 35; Tyre Brady, Marshall, 29. (Other Marshall: Marcel Williams 9th, 22).
Receiving yards: Tyre Brady, Marshall, 495; Thomas Owens, FIU, 462; Jalen Guyton, NT, 444.
Team total offense: North Texas 510.8, UTSA 478.8, Southern Miss 449.6. (Marshall 7th, 373.8)
Team total defense: UTSA 269.8, MTSU 341.2; Southern Miss 346.6, MTSU 348.2. (Marshall 5th, 346.8)